(Karen) … Florence, one of the first rescue guinea pigs here and certainly the one that introduced me to the Human that became a big part of the rescue. Florence arrived via the RSPCA rabbit fosterer, who, like me, don’t believe in keeping rabbits and guineas together (this was back when the RSPCA hadn’t expressed an opinion on the matter). Previously she had been living with a rabbit for 3 years and was terrorised by the family dog, hence the surrender to the RSPCA. Florence was a very independent guinea and even “back in those days” my aim was to intergrate with a group before finding a partner. Florence would “rub along” with the group but didn’t attach herself to anyone. She was featured in a newspaper advert as an individual needing a home with a compatible guinea pig.

Chrissie was chosen as the best Human to give Florence a home and provide her with the friends she needed, but it was to be so much more than that, the start of Reading Guinea Pig Rescue, the next levels. Probably my most important rescue guinea, she definitely set the way for things to come which ensured that the rescue could continue :)

(Chrissie) Florence was the first Gorgeous Guinea, although we didn’t know it at the time.  I adopted her in October 2002 after seeing an article in the local newspaper about Reading Guinea Pig Rescue and that Karen was looking to find her an experienced home.  This was the first time I discovered that it was possible to adopt guineas, not just dogs and cats. Since then, all my guineas have been adopted.

Flo (as she was affectionately known) was already 3 years old when I adopted her, so I wasn’t really expecting to have her for as many years as I did.  She was a very strong-willed, feisty sow who was quite hard to handle and had a tendency to kick.  For the first week I kept her on her own to settle in to her new surroundings.  Every time I picked her up, she squealed the place down – why, I have no idea.  Unwanted behaviour (such as this and bar biting as examples) is ignored here, and Flo soon got the idea that “putting on a performance” got her nowhere and stopped doing it.  Within a week she had calmed down and got used to the new daily routine.  Flo was then introduced to a group of 3 sows that were already living together and settled in well.  The biggest surprise came when I first bathed her.  Although she had settled in well, she made it very clear that bath time wasn’t for her.  I’m not sure if / how often she had been bathed before she came to me, but she certainly didn’t like her first bath here.  She kicked and squealed her way through the whole process and I ended up with scratches an bruises up my arm!  It felt like I had gone through 12 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson. Once dry, she became a nice calm guinea again.  After a few more regular baths, she calmed down and would happily sit there and eventually became one of the “guinea pigs” that we trialed the Posh ‘n’ Go shampoo on.

In November 2002 I started fostering guineas for Karen and took in Marbles and his dad Magic.  Marbles was about 8 wheeks old and small enough to sit in the palm of my hand.  His dad Magic was about a year old and they lived together for another three months or so.  During this time I had decided to adopt them. The teenage hormones then kicked in and Marbles had a growth spurt.  He was soon larger than Magic and started displaying dominant behaviour.  They soon fell out and had to be separated.  I decided to have them both castrated so they could each live with girls.  Marbles ended up with the group of girls including Florence and became their “toy boy” (all the girls were 3+ at the time). He had a whale of a time in his new role and turned into a real ladies’ man.  Florence was always his favourite guinea and they shared 5 happy years together.  Florence was always a very nosey guinea and loved living in a large Cavy Cage where she could see everything that was going on, and also flirt with the boys next door!  A friend gave her a nickname of “the moving mop” as she trundled around the cage with her lovely long hair.

Florence died a week short of her 9th birthday in September 2008 and was still interested in life right up until the end.  Although she was quite thin and frail in her last year, she had a very good quality of life and only ever had a couple of trips to the Vet.  Everyone who met Florence thought there was something magical about her – she was always there to meet, greet and wait for a nose rub or a treat from visitors.

Flo’s biggest contribution in life was to introduce me to Karen and we soon became friends.  Soon afterwards, a large group of badly fungal guineas landed at Reading Guinea Pig Rescue, and out of that, Gorgeous Guineas products came into being and were launched in 2003.  Without Florence, this would probably never have happened, so thank you Flo, you were a star as well as being a big spirit in a little body.